Devils Gameday Preview: New York Rangers – 09.29.22

The New Jersey Devils are looking to earn their third consecutive preseason victory tonight when they travel across the river to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers. This is the first of a back-to-back, home-and-home series to wrap up the first week of exhibition games.

New Jersey Devils Gameday Preview MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier and Dougie Hamilton
MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton (The Hockey Writers)

New Jersey allowed the first goal of the game in both victories this week after sluggish starts. But the overall pace of play improved, and the team finished strong – the opposite of what happened last season – and 17 different Devils have made it onto the scoresheet so far.

Related: 3 Devils Takeaways From Preseason Win vs. Islanders – 9/27/22

The Devils were off the ice on Wednesday after playing back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday. On Thursday, the game group took the ice for their morning skate at Prudential Center before heading to Madison Square Garden. The coaching staff is going to get a good look at a handful of players who are vying for a bottom-six role on this team. Let’s break down everything you need to know ahead of puck drop.

Setting the Stage

How to Watch and Listen

Devils fans will get another opportunity to hear new play-by-play announcer Bill Spaulding along with Ken Daneyko and the rest of the MSG Sportsnet crew. Additionally, you can listen to tonight’s contest on the Devils Hockey Network.

Tonight’s Projected Devils Roster

Forwards: Tyce Thompson, Nathan Bastian, Michael McLeod, Nolan Foote, Miles Wood, Brian Halonen, Fabian Zetterlund, Mason Geertsen, Erik Haula, Tomas Tatar, Dawson Mercer, and Graeme Clarke.

Erik Haula Dawson Mercer New Jersey Devils
Erik Haula and Dawson Mercer celebrate a goal for the New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Defensemen: Brendan Smith, John Marino, Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Wotherspoon, Jonas Siegenthaler, and Kevin Bahl.

Goaltenders: Mackenzie Blackwood and Akira Schmid. Per Devils reporter Amanda Stein, Blackwood is not feeling well, and if he is not available tonight, Vitek Vanecek will get the start.

Tonight’s Projected Rangers Roster

Forwards: Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Sammy Blais, Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, Brennan Othmann, Patrick Khodorenko, Julien Gauthier, Tim Gettinger, Karl Henriksson, and Adam Edström.

Kaapo Kakko New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Defensemen: Ryan Lindgren, Adam Fox, Libor Hajek, Matt Bartkowski, Brandon Scanlin, and Andy Welinski.

Goaltenders: Igor Shesterkin and Olof Lindbom.

A Look at the Rangers

The Rangers’ preseason schedule has mimicked the Devils – after back-to-back games, they were off the ice on Wednesday. Their record is 1-0-1, with an overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night as former Devils forward A.J. Greer scored twice, including the game-winner.

New York Rangers Jimmy Vesey Montreal Canadiens Jeff Petry
New York Rangers left wing Jimmy Vesey controls the puck against Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Jimmy Vesey, another former Devils forward, has appeared in New York’s first two preseason games, collecting three points (one goal, two assists). On Sept. 2, he signed a professional tryout, and if he makes the team, it will mark his second stint with the club.

Players to Watch

New Jersey Devils: Fabian Zetterlund

If there was one prospect who had my attention at the conclusion of the 2021-22 campaign, it was Zetterlund. He appeared in 14 games last season and finished with four points in his final three games. He’s had some immigration issues, which led to him being a late arrival to training camp and missing the game against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. The 23-year-old is a good candidate for earning a bottom-six role, and I’ll be interested to see if he brings a little physicality against the team’s division rivals.

New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko

In his first preseason appearance against the New York Islanders, the 21-year-old collected an assist, recording 15:42 of ice time. He was utilized on the top line alongside Kreider and Zibanejad. Tonight he will be on the second line with Lafreniere and Chytil. Kakko was selected second-overall by the Rangers behind Jack Hughes, the first overall pick at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

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